Judge, Democratic power broker sentenced for bribery scheme

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A former state Supreme Court justice and a former Democratic power broker from western New York were sentenced to prison on Thursday for their roles in a bribery scheme, which authorities say influenced judicial decisions and official appointments.

G. Steven Pigeon, the ex-chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, received a one-year sentence. Former Justice John Michalek received one year and four months.

However, Michalek’s sentence was put on hold until Sept. 9, after State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio Jr. granted an application from Michalek’s lawyer.

Pigeon had pleaded guilty in 2018 to bribing the judge with hockey tickets and job promises in exchange for favors in legal cases. Michalek pleaded guilty and resigned from the bench in 2016. Both the judge and Pigeon, who was also a lawyer, have been disbarred.

The two “engaged in a deep web of deception and bribery that violated their duty to the public and the very laws Michalek swore to uphold” between 2012 and 2015, state Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Pigeon’s sentence will run concurrently with a separate, four-month federal sentence he received Wednesday for admitting he arranged for a Canadian citizen to make an illegal $25,000 donation to a New York official’s reelection campaign.

Pigeon was also charged last December with sexually assaulting a child who was younger than 11, a charge he has denied. That case is pending in Erie County Court.

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